By B Izzak
KUWAIT: HH the Deputy Amir and Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah inaugurated the new National Assembly on Tuesday and issued a stern warning that no more time should be wasted in conflicts and crises. HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Sabah said the Kuwaiti people sent a clear message through the June 6 parliamentary elections that they totally reject tensions and disputes between the government and the Assembly. MP Mubarak Al-Hubaini, who chaired the inaugural session being the oldest member, said the government and Assembly must cooperate to achieve comprehensive political and legislative reforms to benefit citizens.
The Assembly then unanimously elected Ahmad Al-Saadoun as speaker of the house after his only competitor, newcomer MP Dawood Marafie, withdrew. Marafie said he had announced his candidacy to draw attention of young people in Kuwait. The Assembly later elected MP Mohammad Al-Mutair as the deputy speaker with 32 votes, defeating Hubaini, who got 14 votes. Both Saadoun and Mutair were speaker and deputy speaker in the scrapped 2022 Assembly. Before the election of speaker, former three-time speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem demanded to speak, but was prevented by the chairperson because debate before electing the speaker and other office bearers is not allowed.
However, Ghanem spoke without a microphone, protesting at a member taking a picture of his voting ballot, saying this is illegal. Later, Ghanem told the Assembly that he objects to the appointment of the second deputy premier and defense minister (Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah) because it violates article 125 of the constitution and a constitutional court ruling, adding that nothing will scare him and he will talk. After the session, Ghanem told reporters that he was not allowed to speak in violation of the constitution and that he wanted to explain why he was not contesting the speaker’s post and was going to congratulate Saadoun after his election. He stressed nothing will prevent him from expressing his views.
He reiterated his objection and rejection of the appointment of the defense minister, saying his appointment violated the law. In his speech, HH the Crown Prince warned that time should not be wasted in more crises and disputes. “We insist that there is no more room for wasting efforts, time and potential in conflicts, settling scores, fabricating crises and irresponsible practices that have become the subject of resentment” among the people, HH Sheikh Mishal said in his opening speech. “We will not allow vision to miss its path and things to get confused,” he warned. HH the Crown Prince said the Kuwaiti people have responded positively to “correcting the path and are aware that reforms are the way to development and stability”.
He emphasized everyone in the country is working towards the same goal and to serve the same interests under our great nation. “Today, we are before a new era” under the banner of work and reforms for the sake of Kuwait and to achieve the aspirations of the people, he said. HH Sheikh Mishal called on members of the Assembly “to activate constructive cooperation with the government to remove all causes of tension” that have obstructed work and achievement. HH the Prime Minister said the Kuwaiti people have rejected tensions through the ballots, and vowed that he was prepared for cooperation with legislators to achieve the aspirations of the Kuwaiti people and speed up the process of comprehensive reforms in all fields.
Sheikh Ahmad also reiterated his commitment to the provisions of the constitution, which call for safeguarding freedoms and rights of the people and establishing a balance between the executive and legislative authorities. The prime minister also said his government will submit its program of action soon and will call for establishing three economic zones in the north, west and south of the country with a total area of 19 sq km. He said the government is ready to include in its program proposals by MPs as long as they are in line with priorities and within financial capabilities. The premier also vowed to carry out a comprehensive program of economic and financial reforms.
The Assembly later unanimously elected MPs Mubarak Al-Tasha as secretary of the house and Mohammad Al-Huwailah as the Assembly observer. The Assembly also elected members of permanent committees. The Assembly also formed a five-member committee to investigate the Eurofighter and Caracal deals. Its members are MPs Adel Al-Damkhi, Hamad Al-Matar, Hamad Al-Mudlej, Majed Al-Mutairi and Muhalhal Al-Mudhaf. It also elected a committee for strengthening values.
During the session, MPs submitted two political reform draft laws, the first calling to amend electoral districts to achieve equality, while the second calls to amend a law that bars political prisoners from taking part in elections. The Assembly also agreed to extend the current term until all urgent legislations have been approved, and the government immediately agreed. It also decided to hold sessions on Thursdays.